Something Is Wrong in Personal Finance. Here’s How To Make It More Inclusive.

We recently wrote an article about how raising awareness isn’t enough. Our thesis was that you need to pair awareness with some kind of action. Well, good thing we practice what we preach!

Last time we talked about some of the many ways being white brings unearned financial privileges. We got a ton of great responses from readers—many of them white—who are happy that the talk is being talked within the personal finance community.

Now let’s tell you how we think you can walk the walk. Here are our suggestions to make the personal finance community more realistic, more inclusive, more ambitious, and all-around better.

Let’s get to work.

C'mon personal finance community! Let's roll up our sleeves and get more inclusive!

Work on yourself

Think about the ways your fortunes are shaped by your identity

On Monday, I listed some of the ways my racial identity has benefitted me. Race is not the sum total of identity. There are many other aspects of my identity: being queer, a woman, an American, a survivor of sexual assault, etc. They have worked in concert, to my benefit and detriment, all my life. But being white is a really healthy chunk of my identity. And the funny thing is, I probably think about it the least.

Think deeply and honestly about your life, and when you find defensiveness, poke it. There is no such thing as harmful self-inspection or wasteful soul-searching.

Educate yourself

Most of our readers within the personal finance community are well acquainted with the topics we covered last time. But if you’re a white person and some of these words and ideas are new to you, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself.

Start listening to people who aren’t us

We, Piggy and Kitty, should not be your primary source of information about diversity and inclusion. We are white, middle class, straight-passing, fully-abled, cisgender women. We’re as basic as buttered pasta.

We try really hard to educate ourselves, and we want to use our platform here to improve people’s lives. But there is no substitute for first-person experiences from a wide diversity of voices. The world is full of great books, podcasts, columns, films, and blogs. Find them and share them.

Follow people with different experiences on social media

Scan your Twitter feed—how much diversity do you see? Because with apologies to Ustad Ahmad Lahori, Dmitri Shostakovich, and John Milton, Black Twitter is the pinnacle of human artistic achievement. If you aren’t listening in, you’re missing out.

People who aren’t like you have access to different ideas, opinions, news stories, problems, and perspectives. And it’s always healthy to expose yourself—not in a subway penis way, but in a horizon-broadening way.

Believe people when they describe their own experiences

It can be tempting to rationalize the world’s ugliness away. That’s the root of verbiage like “What were you wearing?” and “I’m sure it wasn’t because you’re black!” There has to be a logical reason for people to be awful to one another, right? Sadly, the answer is “nah.”

When someone tells you they have been abused, harassed, oppressed, discriminated against, harmed… default to believing them.

Minimizing other’s experiences, intuitions, and perceptions is dehumanizing. “I believe you” is a full sentence, and a powerful one.

Before you ask, google

If you have a question about the black/gay/trans/disabled/whatever experience, don’t just turn to That One Black/Gay/Trans/Disabled/Whatever Guy You Know and start firing off questions.

You might save yourself from asking a well-intended but awkward question. It’s easy to leave the wrong impression if you use indelicate or outdated language. Don’t risk humiliating yourself or your acquaintances until you’ve taken advantage of the rich well of anonymous information online.

Plus, you save that person from answering a question they’ve likely been asked many times before. It can be rewarding to educate people, but it’s also draining. Don’t ask other people to do your work for you.

Find opportunities to promote equality in your career

I’m a graphic designer for a big boring company, which isn’t exactly adjacent to the “full-time activist” career path.

But one day I had a client who asked for stock images of “a CEO.” I sent them three options. All three were wearing expensive suits, standing in commanding poses at the head of a slick conference room with glowing cities in the background. But one was a silver-haired older white woman, one a middle-aged black man, and one a youngish Indian man.

I could tell that my client wasn’t happy with them. “Could you send me others? None of these people look like CEOs.” I smiled sweetly and said “sure, just let me know why these three don’t look CEO-ish to you.” They abruptly backtracked and decided the Indian man was fine after all.

It’s rather like the opposite of a micro aggression: an act of respect and enablement so small it’s nearly invisible. I’m confident that everyone can find some way to do the same, no matter what their career is.

Here’s more of our advice on how to find opportunities to promote equality in your career:

Check out the many articles on how to be a good ally

People more qualified than us have come up with great lists of things that white allies can do. Both within the personal finance community and outside of it! There are many awesome resources that can guide you on where to donate your money, how to volunteer your time, and how to help mobilize others and find opportunities for action.

Resist white fragility

Personal finance community, you don't have to!

It sucks that we’re stuck grappling with this nonsense. It’s not our fault, any of us. We’re all victims of a system that values male lives over female, white lives over brown, and rich lives over poor. It isn’t fair that we have to clean up the mess made by a thousand generations before us. But it still has to be done.

Not thinking about this stuff, or caring about this stuff, is a wonderful privilege. You can deploy it strategically as part of your own self-care. But living in a permanent state of not-caring makes you willfully complacent to patriarchal white supremacy. Especially within the personal finance community.

It hurts me deeply that people who look like me are so often history’s villains. That hurt is real. But it is so proportionally meaningless compared to those who have actually been oppressed that it’s rude to even bring it up. It’s like complaining about a paper cut to a recent amputee. It derails the more important conversation, and makes everything about you.

My dumb-ass dog loves to lick his wounds. It doesn’t heal them (probably because he also loves to lick chicken poop), but makes them all inflamed and scabby. Think about this metaphor: licking wounds doesn’t make things better. If you feel bad, don’t get defensive. Take action.

Be present in your community

Get comfortable with politics… even in the personal finance community

I’ve said “I hate politics” many times. Actually, it’s usually “I fucking hate fucking politics.” (Shout out to all the people who share our posts with a strong language caveat!)

That said, hating something doesn’t preclude you from actively participating in it.

I hate doing my taxes, getting pap smears, walking the dogs when it’s raining, and talking to anyone on the telephone at any time, for any reason. But I still do all of those things because they’re important. There are unacceptable consequences for not doing them. Opting out of “being political” is an abdication of your responsibility to be an informed and engaged member of society.

Suck it up, read some newspapers, cultivate an opinion, and get engaged.

Vote in local elections

And when you do so, drag your family, roommates, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and Polly Pockets along with you.

Presidential elections are an overhyped clown rodeo. Your strongest opportunities for meaningful civil engagement are in your very neighborhood. Your school board, county prosecutor, city manager, town alderman, and state representative all fucking matter.

Stick a sign in your yard reminding neighbors of a scheduled vote. Post about it on social media. Wear your “I voted” sticker. It all helps!

Accept jury duty graciously

Don’t forget what happened to Tom Robinson, for fuck’s sake!

This is about civil participation. Yes, it’s a minor administrative pain. Figure it out. Our country needs you engaged to change the ways we think about policing and incarceration. Rotten prosecutors put their thumb on the scale by actively seeking racially biased jurors. Go in there with the twin katanas of Fairness and Understanding flashing in your hands. (Not literally. No weapons in the jury box, please.)

Become intolerant of intolerance

You’ve heard of Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance by now, right? “If a society is tolerant without limit, their ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant.” He concluded that, paradoxically, “in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” That means you…

Punch Nazis

Bitches Get Riches is here for Nazi teeth. We use them to craft our small, tasteful drop earrings.

We respect that not everyone feels violence is a productive tool of negotiation. But remember that you’re dealing with people who are nostalgic for the days when black people were lynched and Jewish people were incinerated in ovens.

What do you value more—your self-perception as a rational pacifist, or actual human dignity and life? We personally prefer our one hun’erd Natzee scalps.

I wants mah scalps!

Come for your people, especially in the personal finance community

Guess what happened the last time I was on the phone with my sweet, loving, stubborn, old-fashioned grandpa, and he said something racist? That’s right: I read my beloved g-paw for so much filth the trash can got jealous. Thrown off guard by my vehemence, he immediately apologized, and has successfully checked himself since then.

I don’t have a perfect success record, though. When my pain-in-the-ass, Trump-supporting coworker made fun of an Indian coworker’s name, I didn’t say shit. I was a lazy coward. You heard it here first: sometimes I suck!

Fighting with family is hard. Calling out coworkers is awkward af. But when you avoid it, you are complicit in it. Silence is violence (you know it’s true because it rhymes). If you don’t come for your own people, you’re outsourcing that labor to the already-shat-upon group.

Support minority-owned businesses and enterprises

Literally: streaming 2 Dope Queens counts.

If all the personal finance community bloggers you follow are white, fix that. Patronize diverse, minority-owned businesses in your community. Give your time and money to platforms that lift diverse voices and work to expand the perspectives that you incorporate into your everyday consumption.

Send your kids to public school

Because I’m trying to piss off 100% of all people everywhere, I’ll add that private schools and charter schools have made our school systems as segregated as they were in the time of Brown v. Board of Education. “The well-being of our children” is unconscious racial bias’s favorite and most effective mask.

From the brilliant Nikole Hannah-Jones:

“And I say this—and it always feels weird when I say it as a parent, because a lot of other parents look at you a little like you’re maybe not as good of a parent—I don’t think she’s deserving of more than other kids. I just don’t. I think that we can’t say ‘This school is not good enough for my child’ and then sustain that system. I think that that’s just morally wrong. If it’s not good enough for my child, then why are we putting any children in those schools?”

Our national school system has problems. But those problems will not get better if money, eager students, quality teachers, and highly engaged parents are siphoned off to for-profit institutions.

I know for some people the idea of sending their kid to public school is tantamount to this…

White people upon sending their kids to public school.

… but public schools are awesome! Piggy and I are both proud graduates of the public school system. I wrote about my own experience switching from an all-white private school to a diverse public school. The two word summary is, “I blossomed.” Your kids can too.

Change the personal finance community conversation

Advocate for a better healthcare system

Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in America.

Given that, we clearly need a better system for delivering healthcare. An ideal system would be universally accessible, nondiscriminatory, and not tied to employment. Poor people, unemployed/underemployed people, and sick people all deserve healthcare just as much as wealthy, employed, and healthy people.

I’m open to suggestions. But it sure seems like a single payer system is the best proposal I’ve seen yet.

Advocate for pay transparency

The moldy cantaloupe that is our president just quashed Obama-era legislation that would’ve forced companies to collect and share data on gender and racial pay gaps.

But personal finance community, we’re in luck. Turns out, you don’t need legislation to capture and publish that data! Start a dialogue about what companies are doing it, and why it works. Business interests bow to consumer demands far more easily than demagogues bow to polite appeals for justice and transparency.

Here’s more of what we have to say about pay transparency:

Advocate for a higher minimum wage

I’m thrilled that a $15/hour minimum wage is gaining ground. Anyone who works forty hours a week should make a living wage. Simple as that. You work full-time hours, you should be able to pay your bills.

Advocate to redefine of poverty

The way we define poverty is, uh, darkly hilarious. The 2022 federal poverty level is $13,590. Good news, people making $14K a year! Turns out, you’re not poor!

This method for defining poverty is flawed for several reasons. Chiefly, it is not scaled to changes in our standard of living. It doesn’t factor in modern expenses (like out of pocket medical costs) or resources (like food assistance). It doesn’t differentiate by geography. (For perspective, the average rent in West Virginia is $1,100/mo. In Washington D. C., it’s $2,500/mo.) And its strict definition of what qualities as a family has become pretty irrelevant in an age where cohabitation is the norm.

Coming up with a better way to define poverty, designing a system that updates on a set schedule, and tying the minimum wage permanently to this calculation would prevent us from ever having to make this argument again. And we can advocate for all of that within the personal finance community.

Advocate for a better tax system

Libertarians, I’m throwing you a bone here! Huge pieces of our country’s tax code do the opposite of what they intend.

Income tax is the biggest one. It’s highly bizarre that we tax, a disincentive, something we want to incentivize. Taxing consumption would make a lot more sense. So would taxing overall wealth.

But there’s lower hanging fruit. The mortgage interest deduction makes no sense whatsoever. It helps people who are already wealthy enough to buy a house. Politicians treat it as a sacred cow; disavow them of this assessment.

I would happily give up the large tax break I get today for a larger return back when I was a student shaking my ass for $12K a year.

Advocate to end the credit scoring system as we know it

As we discussed last time, the system by which we currently evaluate creditworthiness is skewed in favor of white people.

Even if one were willing to set this issue aside—which I am not—these companies harvest personal data without consent. They are a bizarre historical vestige and need to go. Surely we have the data to devise a better, fairer, more optional system for evaluating trustworthiness.

Advocate for an end to the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs disproportionately affects people of color. It’s an enormous drain on our country’s resources, as well as a stain upon our collective sense of decency.

Legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana would be a great source of income for cash-strapped local governments. Conversely, this would keep that money out of the hands of drug cartels. It would also make life much easier for people who benefit from using medical marijuana.

Advocate for reproductive justice for women

The biggest impact on a woman’s financial life is how many children she has and when. Given that, it’s incredible how seldom the personal finance community talks about reproductive rights.

The total cost of raising a child averages between $12,350 and $14,000 a year. An average family with two parents and two children will spend a quarter of a million dollars raising those children to adulthood. Personal finance enthusiasts should be horrified at the idea of anyone paying this amount of money for something they don’t want.

Personal finance, as so many people have rightly pointed out, is about freedom. The freedom of women to be childfree, either permanently or temporarily, is being subjected to a death by a thousand cuts. This is completely unacceptable and makes no financial sense whatsoever.

Birth control and other contraception should be free, widely accessible, and available without onerous and scientifically dubious proscriptions. And we need to stop lying to young men and women about how their bodies work.

If you’re personally against abortion, cool! Go stand on your balcony and toss free birth control pills into the streets like Mardi Gras beads. Because the best way to prevent abortions is through comprehensive sex education and free contraception.

Contemplate the possibilities of the future

The day is coming when Millennials and Gen Z will replace Baby Boomers in the seats of power. We should start thinking now about the big picture stuff we’d like to accomplish.

I firmly believe everything mentioned above is achievable in the immediate future. But there are bigger fish waiting to be fried that require more political capital than we have today.

Student loan forgiveness?

This interesting idea could benefit a lot of overburdened young people. But we’d have to devise a way to make sure history wouldn’t repeat itself. Perhaps packaging it with a set of regulations on school tuition rates? Or implementing mandatory secondary education classes on financial literacy? So many options!

Universal basic income?

We’d like to see more research on a universal basic income, but we’re leaning strongly in favor. Automation is already reducing the need for human workers. Nonprofit research proves that the best way to help poor people is often to just give them money. For such a thing to work, we’d have to fully divorce our culture from the idea that poverty is analogous to immorality.

The possibilities for our personal finance community.

Special suggestions for our fellow bloggers in the personal finance community

Quit writing shallow, bullshit success narratives

There is a fine line between being encouraging and being full of shit.

When you say, “If I can do it, anyone can!” what you’re really saying is, “It worked for me, and my experience with people who aren’t like me is so limited that I have a hard time even imagining their existence!” Hard work, discipline, and sacrifice may have led you to financial stability. But it’s ignorant to suggest that everyone’s life circumstances put them on equal footing.

I don’t want to hear any more exclusionary nonsense about how people who can’t make it work are “complainypants” losers and whiners. If you honestly think that willpower is the only determinant to success, you’re ignorant as well as a jerk. And you’re using personal finance and your platform to flatter yourself.

Be transparent about your income

Lots of personal finance bloggers are doing well on this one by posting their personal net worths on a regular basis. I’ll join this group as soon as I get my life together and answer all these GODDAMN EMAILS.

Be transparent. Remind people often of how much you make. This helps your readers frame your advice, and should also remind you of your place on the spectrum.

At the time I wrote this, I made $105K a year. For my household, that’s more than 84% of Americans. Our readers skew very young, and I make triple what the average 15-24-year-old makes. That said, this success is very recent. The days when I was scraping by on $12K a year were only a few years ago, and that’s the demographic for which I try to write.

I’m 100% positive I’ll occasionally say something oblivious, like “my god, the price of black truffles has become simply monstrous!” I look forward to my readers shutting my rich ass the fuck down.


Call out exclusion in the personal finance community

I float silently in many personal finance forums and social media groups. And sometimes I’m fucking appalled by what I see.

A person of color asks for advice about taxes on part-time work while on disability. The response? Suspicious, incredulous questions that smack of racism and ableism.

Someone asks for advice about how to work their wife’s clothing into their family budget. The response? Scathingly misogynist assumptions that the wife is a materialistic gold-digger.

A person asks for advice on dealing with an investment property in a “ghetto” full of “thugs.” The response? Helpful comments, and so much commiseration.

Someone asks an innocent beginner question, or reveals they have consumer debts, rent their home, or work for minimum wage. The response? Smug, unhelpful half-jokes designed to make that person feel small and ashamed.

I am also ashamed. I’m ashamed when I see this shit. Doubly so when good people sit back and say nothing, or whisper about it in DMs with “other chill/woke people.” Y’all, this shit does not belong in our community. And I don’t want to see it anymore.

Don’t root for others to suffer or fail

I was horrified when a giant in the financial blogging scene wrote a post called “Great News: There’s Another Recession Coming.” He meant well, and we respect him. But it missed the mark.

During the last recession, I met a woman who ate spoonfuls of flour to settle her empty stomach at night. She gave all the food she could afford to her children.

So you can imagine how I feel hearing a multimillionaire blithely shrug off the concept. The worst part was seeing no one in the personal finance community call him on it.

We need to care about what happens to the people around us, regardless of whether they’re financially savvy. Everyone deserves to be respected, welcomed, and (if they wish) inspired and educated.

I get that the world is full of assholes who buy a family pack of jet skis, then declare bankruptcy two months later. It’s tempting to smugly mock these (from our perspective) foolish and irresponsible people. There are active sub-forums devoted to this sport.

But consider that this hypothetical spendthrift has kids who are confused about why they live in a mansion empty of food. His wife has no idea her husband is hiding several credit cards. He has elderly parents who’ve cosigned his mortgage because they thought it was the right thing for parents to do. When we laugh at this man for falling down, we’re also laughing at all the misfortune he brings upon others.

Another person’s anguish should never cause glee. Their failure does not make you stand any taller, or make you any more moral. You don’t need other people to be wrong to be right.

Embrace intersectionality

If you’re not familiar with this term, don’t feel bad. It’s a little academic and not the most intuitive. But it’s also a very useful and powerful concept.

Here’s what it means: people’s identities aren’t just one thing. I’m white, but I’m also a woman, an atheist, queer, middle-class, cisgender, abled, and American. I am multidimensional: oppressed in some ways and privileged in others.

Intersectionality is awesome because it shows us that when we make efforts to lessen the oppression affecting one group, we also lessen the oppression affecting other groups whose identities intersect with it. A rising tide lifts all oppressed boats!

In other words: if you’re an Asian man who writes about the harmful “model minority” stereotype, you’ve helped people of color who aren’t Asian, because you’re trying to reject unfair racial privileges. You have also helped women, because the “model minority” borrows a lot of ideas from benevolent sexism.

Isn’t that neat? You don’t necessarily have to step way outside your personal experiences to lift others up.

Write about what scares you

Do you have any idea how my heart pounded hitting “publish” on the last article? I was worried I might’ve gotten things wrong, or worded them insensitively. I am terrified of disappointing my readers. I am doubly terrified of being attacked by ultra-woke TikTok teens. These aren’t low-key subjects. If you get them wrong, you’re gonna hear about it.

That said, to grow as a writer, you’ve gotta use your platform to write about the kinds of topics that intimidate and scare you.

You will probably get some tedious comments, but it’s worth it for the unique opportunity to engage your audience. Remember that your audience trusts you. Otherwise they wouldn’t read what you write. That gives you a unique “in” to inspire folks who might otherwise be hard to reach.

Friends, that’s it. That’s what I’ve got. I am spent. I need a stiff drink, a six-hour nap, and at least four article cycles where I talk EXCLUSIVELY about Sailor Moon. I’ll find a way to make it finance-related. Maybe.

I know there’s plenty of stuff I missed! Please add your thoughts below. I’ll read them from my bubble bath.

Moon prism power, bitches.

Personal finance community, look out. Here comes some moon prism power.

37 thoughts to “Something Is Wrong in Personal Finance. Here’s How To Make It More Inclusive.”

  1. Where to even begin with this comment? There is so in here – so much good (italicize that!). It’d take a comment almost equal in length to justifiably respond to everything in here, so I will simply say THANK YOU.

    I found this to be profound and worth every second of the read. Keep up the good work, keep doing what you are doing, and keep standing up for what is right and what you believe in.

    As a blogger it is articles like these that inspire me to be better. They make me review all of my posts and actions to make sure they are sending the right message. They make me consider my actions and words not just on the internet, but in real life as well.

    One other thing – thanks for calling out this recession BS. Why are PF folks rooting for a recession and financial (and personal) ruin of people and country? Yes, they happen – it is a natural part of the business cycle – but that doesn’t mean we should get excited about them and talk up how they are such a great buying opportunity. Instead, focus on how to manage through them so people who don’t have the same knowledge/financial savvy/income/wealth as you can try to navigate the toughest times.

  2. Yes! I was so thrilled to find your blog after wading through all the bro-flavored personal finance advice out there. I see lots of pieces like, “How I saved $30,000 in year! Anyone can do it!!” (when they’re making $100,000). Or shaming people for choices made to add ease to their busy lives, like owning a car or occasionally buying lunch at work. There’s a huge difference between “hey! Here’s some info, strategies, and tips!” and “if you spend more than $200 a month on food you are an IDIOT!”

    (Also, obviously, framing poverty as a moral flaw or a failure of work ethic or intelligence is SUPER SHITTY.)

    I’m also a fan of examining and rejecting materialism, but people find meaning and satisfaction in many ways, and to position some as “holier” or more virtuous than others grinds my gears. Maybe buying and wearing interesting, fashion-forward clothes is a fun creative outlet for someone! Maybe another person finds a lot of joy and community by playing video games! Neither of those things are inherently better or worse than someone who prefers thrift-store outfits and going on hikes.

    So thanks for letting me just repeat a lot of what you just wrote in the commeeeeeents!

  3. There’s so much here that I want to talk about but I can’t even begin to talk about it all. But YES, the general “yay stocks will be on sale during a recession!” reaction I saw after that post made me want to scream. That’s all great for people with six-figure net worths whose only concern is if it’ll slow down their FIRE timeline. But what about the people struggling to get by on their multiple part-time jobs while the economy is doing well?? Guess it doesn’t matter, as long as people investing can grab lots of shares, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Also I will cheerfully punch the next person I hear say “just keep your legs closed” in response to anyone calling out yet another attack on women’s reproductive rights (double bonus points for punching them if they’re also a Nazi). I grew up with that health class abstinence-only bullshit, and it took me partway through college to even begin to realize how much of that I’d unkowingly internalized. And that was even after I’d started my brief college stint as one of the woke Tumblr people. I’M STILL MAD ABOUT IT YEARS LATER.

  4. Can you move to Canada so that we can be friends? I have loved your blog since the first time I read it, and I swear it is just getting better. I just nodded my way through this entire post, and I will have to go back and read it again so that I can follow some of the links.

    Also, thanks for linking to my blog! I feel so lucky to be included in such an epic post.

  5. Another post that hits it out of the ballpark. I’m tired of reading about privileged bullshit. I’m also tired of personal finance bloggers refusing to discuss the political and class aspect of personal finance. My thinking is that it’s much easier to churn out an article about the “snowball vs avalanche debt methods” than actually crafting a thoughtful critical analysis. For profit-focused blogs, it’s all about quality over quantity.

    I have strong views on universal basic income – if you’re interested in reading someone else’s thoughts about it (backed by research, of course) I’ve already written a post on it and it’ll be coming out this week!

    Keep doing what you’re doing Piggy & Kitty. In solidarity!

    1. YES. That whole movie/book is great for many reasons, but that scene–THAT FUCKING SCENE–is so important. Dancing on the graves of the less fortunate is never ok.

  6. I’m so glad to see someone call out Mr. Money Mustache. The recession piece was disgusting.
    He also had one the other day where he was shitting on people who, unlike him, needed to entertained by tv and weren’t content to build houses in their down time. I was like, “motherfucker, do you know why people watch TV? It’s because they’re tired because they spend all day working.” It’s like he’s even forgotten that early retirement is unusual and most people don’t live that way. So smug.

    1. Yeah, that was the piece where I realized (belatedly, I guess) that his blog had jumped the shark – it was all about how amazing he is that he doesn’t need to be entertained like the rest of us poor schmos.

    2. I have not read this one, because I stopped reading a long time ago. I basically only read his shit now when the wokefolks hop on a group DM to be like “good morning, here’s some white nonsense to go with your coffee.” Gonna have to go find that for…research…

  7. This is great – thanks for putting it all out there. I perhaps should say that I’m not a millenial (but, as a Gen-X college prof, I am super pro-millenial; you folks have it together) but I have been quietly reading and loving this blog; now I love it even more. That’s it: good job, carry on. Call out bullshit when you see it, punch Nazis, and keep fighting the good fight.

  8. Man… I agree about MMM. He was the first FI blog I read. And seriously… kudos for changing my life. But lately all his articles have been suuuuper Richy mcRichFace. I just can’t relate to him anymore. 🙁 Same with quite a few personal finance bloggers. And btw, giiirl… I’m so glad you guys have stopped pulling your punches! This is what I’ve been waiting for!

    1. Lord, thank you. We didn’t want to jump into the scene and immediately start throwing full glasses of wine in people’s faces… But our wonderful readers have really encouraged us to start to take more risks with our writing. We’re really psyched with our new and true direction, we’re glad you all seem to be too!

  9. You guys.

    We started this blog not quite a year ago. And if you had told me then that I could write a post talking about intersectional activism in personal finance *that also low-key trashed MMM* and have it be well received, I would’ve called you a liar.

    We think our audience is always the best. Yet somehow they are always even better than we think they are. I promise you from here on out, it will be nothing but tea-sipping and truth-spilling. <3 <3 <3

    1. You know I agree with every word of this. One thing that made me feel hopeful last week at FinCon was the amount of anti-MMM sentiment that’s bubbling up in more places, including among the definitely overly entitled and privilege-blind FI folks. (Not that all are that way, but plenty are.) And in a FIRE “expert” roundtable I was on, I was pleasantly surprised at home much various topics of privilege and rarity came up. It’s waaaaay too soon to get self-congratulatory, but sometimes these things can feel overwhelming and impossible (at least to me), so I like to celebrate the progress when possible. Of course, this is not any real victory — it’s just a reminder to keep pushing harder and harder.

  10. I can’t lie, I’ve always found MMM annoyingly smug and never read it. Guess I have good instincts.

    UGHHHH stock photos. Love love love how you pushed back on the CEO shots.

    And F YES to no more shallow success narratives.

    This entire post is everything.

  11. God that I also don’t believe in be damned. I also really suck sometimes.

    I’ve been party to “omg look how much this post sucks and isn’t woke” group convos where I usually just go “lol wat.” I’m *really* bad at calling out “ist” statements irl. I don’t write about topics that intimidate and scare me. I hadn’t seen the vast majority of those linked resources before. My Twitter feed is still very pale (already actively working to change this, but holy wonder bread do I mostly read other white women). And top it all off with “but I’m a good person” mentality.

    I needed this.

    I have a lot of reading, listening, and thinking to do.

  12. *ships you three crates of wine* Ladies, I keep on with this! It’s so much truth that needs to be talked about in a thoughtful and serious way – our community can be so much more than just basic information and oh so much fun! once a year. I AM sorry we didn’t get to toast for real this year in Dallas, though.

  13. You’ll probably delete this comment, but I feel like sharing my thoughts with you anyway. I’d like an honest answer, but I don’t expect an answer at all. I hope you’ll at least read it all before hitting “delete”, if that’s what you’ll choose to do. While it may appear so, there’s no passive-aggressiveness towards you in this message and I beg you to take everything here at face value.

    I’ll begin with saying that I already accrued three capital sins (probably more, but I’m not an expert in this subject): I’m a white, able bodied, male. I usually don’t bring up my gender or ethnicity when I comment somewhere because I value merit of writing and ideas over genetics, but I understand that labels are a big thing with feminism, so I’ll oblige. I hope you’ll forgive my “uneducated” or “invalid” viewpoint based on those aforementioned sins.

    I’ve seen this stuff pop up in atheism, videogames, the tech industry and more recently movies. I’m referring to the “inclusiveness at all costs” stuff that you thoroughly explain in this fine blog post. It always starts with little pockets of radical feminism that no one takes too seriously or just tolerates because “they deserve their voice too” (you and a few others are now this little pocket in the FIRE community, that’s why I’m commenting here in the first place); but then it rapidly devolves in a poisonous echo chamber where the original individuals of the group are constantly struggling with the new people feminism brings in to enjoy their hobby/work again. The tolerance paradox, indeed.

    In the end, feminism always wins because of mainstream appeal and because the individuals of those groups are usually either social outcasts like nerds, have mainstream-opinion dependent jobs or a bit of both. Basically, they are weak and/or vulnerable, so their little groups got swallowed up without much thought or care. The results after that varies from abysmal, ham-fisted and tone-deaf “catering” products that no one buys (including the target demographic) to fails of legendary proportions (the equifax fiasco was because a “diversity hire” with no experience was charged with data security).

    The point of this comment is to say: I wonder how the FIRE community will react to usual feminism bullying tactics, since most of its individuals are rich in some form, successful to a degree and are the opposite of mainstream-dependent (you can’t fire someone for “bigotry” if they’re already unemployed by choice).

    That said, I hope you’ll find success in what you love to do. I’m not here to be hateful, I just wanted your opinion on these things that I brought up. I’ll check for a few days if the comment gets published and if you answer it.


    1. Hi. You say you want an answer, but I’m not sure what question you’re asking. Mostly it seems like you have some complicated feelings about diversity that you’re trying to work through.

      Your comment waffles in a way I find very telling. At parts you seem determined to prove that you have humility and really want to listen and learn; and at other parts you are desperate to establish that feminists ruin things. I see this as evidence of a struggle inside your heart. You want to be one of the good guys, but you also don’t want the things you like to change. So which of those things is ultimately more important to you?

      There’s a line in my article that I really think summarizes my advice for you. “Think deeply and honestly about your life, and when you find defensiveness, poke it.” I could explain to you why you feel ambivalent about inclusivity, but you won’t believe me. You have to go inside and find that answer for yourself.

      Personally, I agree with what Joseph Campbell said, and Yoda paraphrased: “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” One of these paths challenges you. The other one coddles you. And if you really want to grow as a person, you have to pick the former. If you choose the latter, nothing I say can make you understand or embrace intersectional feminism.

      1. Hello again

        Sorry if my previous comment “waffles” a bit. I have the problem that I’ll revision a comment several times before publishing it, so I end up making assumptions and conjectures based on phrases or paragraphs that are not present in the final version of the comment. I’ll try to keep it together this time.

        Between the time I published my first comment and now I’ve read other blog posts of yours and I’ll say that I’m not worried anymore. About the FIRE community, that is. I’ve seen some big names come here and comment in a way that implies total disregard of the more “out there” commentaries that you espouse here. You are free to think that I’m projecting or that it’s all in my head, that’s fine too.

        I’m making this comment just to recognize that at least you published a different opinion, even if you didn’t address some of the points I (admittedly not in a very straightforward way) tried to bring up about the more toxic aspect of modern feminism. That’s more I can say about the majority of modern feminists that just shut down any form of “wrongthink”

        That being said: this is the last comment I’m writing here, or indeed the last time I come here at all, since this blog is clearly not my cup of tea. As the old Internet adage goes: “if you don’t like what you see, you can press the “X” button on the top of your browser”

        Again, I hope you’ll find happiness in life. Take care.

    2. It’s hard to take your comment seriously when you claim that the Equifax data breach was caused because someone with no experience was charged with data security. However, you completely disregard the fact that this “diversity hire” was the senior director of information security audits and compliance for Hewlett Packard for seven years prior to joining Equifax. I would hardly call that no experience. If you are referring to the fact that she holds a degree in music theory rather than in computer science then you’ve also managed to miss the fact that CISOs encompass a diverse range of education backgrounds some with degrees and others with none. Of those who have degrees more don’t have CS degrees than do. In fact, the degree is considered an irrelevant credential in hiring a CISO. I managed to find this information in less than five minutes, so it’s not hidden. I have the feeling you read an article about the Equifax CISO’s music degree and that she’s a woman, thus proving “diversity and inclusion” only give unqualified people opportunities that they don’t deserve, and that since that view aligns with your personal beliefs you accepted it at face value with no further investigation into her credentials. It’s almost pointless to engage with someone who’s attempts to gaslight and troll are so thinly veiled.

  14. “Silence is violence (you know its true because it rhymes)” made me LOL. I love how you weave seriousness and hard-hitting truth with witticisms and humor to make it more palatable and memorable. Also, Sailor Moon, bless your heart if you weren’t already the object of so many people’s desire I would try to woo you. There’s so much goodness in here I can’t possibly comment on all of it. Just know I’m bookmarking, sharing, and please for the love of humanity keep doing what y’all do.

  15. Whoa. Today I’ve stumbled out of my echo chamber into a part of the internet far from my normal bookmarked blogs…but I can’t stop reading.

    Keep writing bitches. Don’t pull punches. I like your style. Also you make me want to swear more in my posts!

    PS: Can someone like this blog and MMM? Asking for a friend 😉

    1. This is seriously my favorite comment (and compliment) on this post. Thank you!!! And feel free to swear more! It’s fun!
      Yes, you can definitely like us both. Spoiler alert: I totes got into personal finance by reading the MMM archives.

  16. I’ve been looking for posts like this one (and the last one!) since I joined the PF blogging community back in June. My own writing is definitely not as developed as yours, but I continue to strive towards inclusiveness, humility, and transparency. Thank you SO much for paving the way!

  17. I love you ladies for discussing this and calling on people to change up their own ideas. Shortly before you originally posted these articles, I read a report ( from Prosperity Now (they’re new to me, but their work looks amazing) laying out how financial policies and practices going back to the Civil War have systemically prevented POC from creating wealth. We already know there’s rampant economic injustice, and it’s important to fix it. However, the report reminds us that the US is set to become majority-POC in 2042, and if old, scared, racist white men continue these systems that screw POC over financially–and if the rest of us continue to allow it to happen–the US is going to be in some real trouble. It’s worth a read, and their site is worth checking out.

  18. The Happy Philosopher brought me here. My first comment, is no, please don’t swear more. Try swearing less. One reason I don’t read MMM is his and his audiences penchant for swearing. Swearing to me is a lot like yelling. I believe it also stretches you intellectually to find a better word. You do seem big on being stretched, so maybe you will agree with me.

    I am also one of those able bodied, white males with no problems life. Wait a moment. No, I’m not. Look, I didn’t ask to be white, able bodied or male. So I won’t apologize. Was it a gift? I guess that depends on your perspective. I believe you said you were an atheist. If that is correct, clearly it isn’t a gift. It would just be happen stance. Now, I’m not an atheist. I believe every day is a gift and we need to make the most of it. Also, I have been nursing a foot injury for over a year. So I’m actually mostly able bodied. I do have all my limbs though so I guess really I shouldn’t complain.

    Now, my wife deals with chronic back pain for a car accident about 19-years ago. I didn’t actually start getting really bad until about 5-years ago. Too bad, we can’t reevaluate the insurance settlement. Oh well. Lesson learned. She was also physically and mentally abused and sexually assaulted. But she is white. From, your blog it seems like maybe she gets 1/2 credit. I’m truly blessed that she married me. We have six children.

    We have lived through poverty. No atheists brought us food when we needed it. Some Christians did. We have at times done the same for others, now that we are in a better place. I grow up in a stable home, but as you get older, you see what kind of effort was put forward for that to happen. My mom’s parents were teachers and farmers. They had a stable life. My dad’s parents were Phds and a Phd/MD. The spent a sizable amount of time away from each other, but remained married. My mom was a teacher. My dad finished his masters. I didn’t finish my college education. Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t actually be where I’m at. But, I worked hard, harder than others were willing to, and made advancements here and there.

    Here is the thing. When people see us, they assume because of our color that we have no problems. Guess what, that isn’t really fair either. She has scars from her childhood and adulthood. I do too. But, I have never used them as an excuse for not making necessary changes.

    I would like to write more, that is all I have time for at the moment. I would love to spend more time with your blog and trying to read and understand the “other side”. I guess for a time, I’ll have to suck it up just ignore some of the language choices. I do appreciate what you spent time writing. Obviously, I don’t agree with some of the points. We don’t have to agree 100% in order to make and effect changes though in the areas where we do agree. I did like your push back on the photos.

    I’ll be back. :O)

    1. We don’t assume that your life is free of problems, but that the problems you have are not related to, say, being white.

  19. I deeply adore this post for all the above (positive) reasons; most financial advice I’d seen before you excellent Bitches was the typical crap – learn to save on a measly $60000 salary! – etc. I read one that said your living expenses ( including rent, renters insurance, utilities – not even groceries!? ) shouldn’t be more than 30% of your total income. It made me feel like total shit. Like there were a ton of young people out there that were making $10k /yr and I was the idiot that couldn’t find a good cheap living situation in Orange County, CA. I must be doing something wrong if I have to choose between ramen and gas to work. Fuck me, right?

    To be clear, I was doing a lot of things wrong, and I’m super grateful to blogs like this one that helped me straighten the fuck up, but those other ones were just not the way. Millionaires giving young 20-somethings with 2 jobs and somehow still no money advice based on their salary just doesn’t make sense. I really appreciate your transparency when it comes to your salary. You obviously understand that you’re financial life is a lot different than it was when you were pulling in only 12k / year and that really only helps people like me. Hell, you got to the improved financial situation (congratulations btw!) by putting these principles into practice.

    I know this is long-winded, but I can shorten it with some numbers for you. I went from:
    – making 10-12k/year (depending on how many jobs, part or full time, etc)
    – living in my car
    – swimming in credit card debt
    – $0 savings (and usually only just above that in checking)
    – and constantly drowning
    – 29k/year
    – looking into buying a house with my husband
    – $0 CC Debt
    – a smarter way to handle my school debt
    – $1000+ savings
    – and a budget I can understand.

    I got super lucky for some of it, of course; I wouldn’t have my 29k job if I didn’t know a friend who had an open minimum wage spot and was willing to bet on me. But I also wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t used the Bitch knowledge I’ve got over the years, like asking for that raise and really forcing myself to get smart about budgeting.

    I’m looking forward to watching you guys revolutionize the rest of the financial world for people stumbling into it. I think you’re right on all accounts and I hope the rest of the financial work takes note.

  20. As usual, your post is spot on and wonderful. My only gripe is the section about wages.

    “I’m thrilled that a $15/hour minimum wage is gaining ground. Anyone who works forty hours a week should make a living wage.”

    A single, fixed dollar amount living wage at a federal level is ridiculously impractical- largely in part because of something you mentioned: The cost of living is different in every city; $15 is a grand amount, but there are areas in the us that would require a wage as high as $55 / hr in order to live with the barest of necessities.

    A fixed, federally mandated dollar amount simply isn’t going to cut it. Ever… We need to include additional areas of attack in our argument- such as the increasing inflation of the cost of housing itself, rising inflation overall, etc. And we need to push for federal regulation that requires each city, or county, to individually to set their minimum wage based on the cost of living /in that area/- not regulation that sets a single, finite number across the board. Otherwise we’re going to continue having this fight, and it will continue never being enough.

  21. I just read this post which was written 2 years ago and it’s still relevant today. In many ways some aspects of personal finance community has deteriorated to the point I ignore it. I may be complicit for not overtly confronting.

    From seeing debt free community attack Moorehouse students for getting a “bailout” to FIRE community pointed fingers on anyone who challenges their retirement edict. And to those who demeen people whose spending is what keeps the economy going and what keeps their index funds growing.

    I’m tired but thank you for the coffee.

  22. 3 years in and this blog post is still just as relevant and important! We need to do better. Two things that really stood out to me – 1) I love that you made your client choose between only POC and women for their CEO stock photo. It’s a subtle but fucking righteous way to make ppl address their unconscious biases. 2) Send your kids to public school! Yes. I love love love love public school and how much my kiddo has grown and continues to grow in public school – even in zoom school. I always want to encourage ppl to try it out, you might be surprised. Now if your kid isn’t a standard learner or needs to have some specific behavioral stuff managed, I get it – private school might be a better choice, but if they aren’t, it’s worth a go. Keep posting these little gems on twitter so I can see them. Thanks as always for keeping it real as well as enlightening and educational.

  23. This is very informative. We all know the importance of financial planning but we really don’t apply it our lives This tells us to differentiate between the need and necessity of life. Thanks for gearing up.

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